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Old February 25th, 2013, 08:32 AM   #1
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Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

So as a second or third cam, I often put a camera on a tripod in the back of the room or some other far away place. Problem is, while I love the low fast primes and keeping them wide open at 1.4-2.0, now I have to deal with the shallow depth of field, I can't get the bride in focus all that long down the aisle. Since the camera is running by itself, I can't pull focus on it obviously. I'm just curious as to what everyone else is doing. If I up the fstop to 4.5 or 5, whats the point of having an expensive fast prime?? Are you all just bumping up ur ISO for things like this?

I currently have a 20mm 1.7, 25mm 1.4, and 50mm 1.4 canon - these 3 I use most, but I'm looking for a longer length lens for a far away locked down shot to replace my canon xl h1a in low light situations.

Was considering a Rokinon 85 mm F/1.4, they seem inexpensive, but hey if I'm going to have to ramp it up to 4.0 or 5 mise well go for something cheaper.
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Old February 25th, 2013, 08:42 AM   #2
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Re: Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

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If I up the fstop to 4.5 or 5, whats the point of having an expensive fast prime??
You could also ask yourself what the point is of having a very shallow dof if there is a risk of having out of focus shots the entire ceremony? I rather have a f5.0 stop on any unmanned camera and know it will be in focus all the time, once you start to play with f2.0 or f1.4 the camera should be manned at all times. That's usually the reason why many dslr users that have more camera's then manpower buy a extra smaller handicam to cover shots from the back as they have a much deeper dof and will assure you get usable footage once you see it in your NLE.
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Old February 25th, 2013, 09:31 AM   #3
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Re: Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

James, the wide shot from the back of a theater or church, if it has enough light to work, is a great place to put any kind of camcorder that can cut with your main HDSLR. For example, I've been amazed at how well my Panny TM900 meshes with my xf305 and even my 5D if I do some planning in advance. (it can't do the kind of flesh tones I need when doing close ups. I assume that you can get the HDSLR to work fine for you at F5 or higher? Also Century may make a quality wide angle attachment for your Canon. I have their wide adapters for all three of my camcorders. I consider them required gear if I'm going to use them, even though the camcorders have pretty wide angle as it is.
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Old February 25th, 2013, 09:53 AM   #4
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Re: Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

As much as I use primes the rest of the day, for the rear camera I always have zoom (80-200mm) for the flexibility - too many differences in aisle length and I don't want to be in the way. It also let's me change from a wider shot with bridal party to a slightly tighter shot of just the couple (and maybe best man/moh).
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Old February 25th, 2013, 09:56 AM   #5
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Re: Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

A locked down camera needs either plenty of DOF (with the associated increase in ISO to compensate) or you need to be remote monitoring and refocusing on the fly (check out CamRanger).
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Old February 25th, 2013, 02:01 PM   #6
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Re: Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

Which lens to use? There's going to be lots of variables to start with. How dark are the churches? How far away is the back of the church? Are you prepared to use lighting in your churches? And does shallow depth of field make any difference anyway if the couple are standing very close to the wall of the church?

For my own part, I'm shooting with a full frame camera, and generally use a 24-70, sometimes a 100mm, from back of church, and I close that aperture as much as I can get away with. On a Mk3, I'm prepared to crank the ISO up to 5000 or even 6400, and drop the shutter speed to 30. I just want focus. Wide shots like this are not usually about shallow depth of field for me. Depending on the church, they're more about the majesty of the complete view. I'm usually framing for the entire bridal party.

If I want a tighter shot from back of church, it's probably 100-400, on a crop sensor.

Re keeping the bride in focus all the way along the aisle with shallow depth of field... I think this is difficult enough if the camera is manned let alone unmanned! If it's a shot from the rear, I think I'm more inclined to let her walk out of focus (can be a nice effect). If it's a shot from the front, I'd let her walk into focus at a certain point in the aisle (around about the area where she locks eyes with the groom), and then try to pull focus as she walks towards me, which can be tricky. The rest of the bridal party, I'll simply let walk into and then out of focus as they come towards me.
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Old February 25th, 2013, 08:41 PM   #7
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Re: Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

I think the solution is to just accept some noise in the video and work the ISO up to compensate. I don't normally light the church - also a zoom I'm sure would be nice back there as well. Oh someday we will be able to have our cake and eat it too.
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Old February 27th, 2013, 07:46 AM   #8
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Re: Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

James, we can have our cake and eat it too, it's called a videocamera. Get a Canon XA-10 or the new G20 and your troubles from the rear of the church will be over.

I use two XA-10 and two GH2s, and the images match nearly perfectly. Your old video camera does need replaced, you are right about that. Get a newer camera and you'll be very happy.

No prime lens will work from the rear every wedding because aisle length differ in churches.

I shot with all GH2s and Gh1s for a season and it drove me nuts. Never again.
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Old February 27th, 2013, 08:38 AM   #9
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Re: Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

I would echo Jeff's advice to use a videocamera. The other problem with a Canon DSLR is that the image is a bit soft which is great for close-ups but lacks detail with wide-angle shots. I use a Canon XF105 (same sensor as XA10) as a locked off wide angle camera for shooting weddings plus I use the XLRs for connecting up wireless mics.
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Old February 27th, 2013, 01:53 PM   #10
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Re: Locked down DSLR lens choice? What do you use?

Notice a pattern - mixing camera formats is a good solution. Use each tool for what it does well. Yes you'll have to tweak a bit in post to match everything, but that shouldn't be an issue.

Nothing says you have to show up with a bag of hammers, tossing a screwdriver, pliers, and a drill in the bag can actually save some money and give you versatility and flexability.
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